County’s Code Red system helps keep public informed during emergencies
How prepared are you for an emergency in your area?
Last week a person of interest wanted in connection with a string of burglaries fled from police into the backcountry near the Stillwater Pass area between Granby and Grand Lake. Within minutes the Grand County Office of Emergency Management sent out a Code Red alert to residents in the area, informing them of the situation and cautioning them to remain indoors and stay vigilant.
The only problem is not everyone got the memo.
In the face of an increasingly unpredictable world, being proactive is key, and knowledge is king. That’s why county officials are urging residents to sign up for the Code Red Emergency Notification System.
“Its just about having the knowledge that you can be notified almost immediately if something comes up,” said Christian Hornbaker, emergency manager for OEM. “There’s a good reason we’re using it, and it’s not for spam messages or anything. It’s about being prepared, safe and secure. That’s what it really comes down to for us is making sure that our community is as safe as possible. And this is one of the tools we use to assure that.”
The Code Red system is an emergency notification platform that allows county officials to immediately inform residents of potential emergencies by sending alerts directly to their phones or computers. In order to receive alerts residents have to sign up for the service, though the process is simple.
Interested parties should visit GCEmergency.com, where they can access a link to sign up for Code Red. Once an account has been created you will be prompted to give an address for the area you would like to receive notifications, and you can add multiple addresses in the county. Participants can also decide if they would like to receive alerts by text message, voice message or email. A link to the Code Red sign up can also be found on the Grand County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.
Hornbaker said that the notification system could be called into action for a myriad of situations including active shooters, missing persons, and extreme weather conditions. Code Red alerts can also be sent internally among emergency personnel.
“There’s multiple functions, but the primary use it to notify the public in an emergency,” said Hornbaker. “There are so many different things it could be like an active shooter or an avalanche that shuts down roads. So we can create a message, we can create scenarios and we can actually be proactive in informing the public.
While alerts in the area are rare, they have been effective recently. Two missing children and their dog were found in early June after a driver, informed of the situation by a Code Red alert, spotted the children along Highway 88 and contacted law enforcement officials.
The Code Red alerts go out based on the address given when signing up. County officials are able to create a custom range for alerts, meaning anybody signed up will received an alert if their address is in the designated area, even if they aren’t.
Hornbaker said that the county is also currently working to implement the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System, or IPAWS, in January. Unlike the Code Red system, IPAWS doesn’t require participants to sign up, meaning anyone in the area will get an alert on their cell phone if one is issued, similar to an Amber Alert.
“For me I don’t see a reason why we shouldn’t have it,” said Hornbaker referring to the anticipated IPAWS system. “Hopefully we never have the need to send off a notification, but when we need to we want to make sure we have that option. People’s lives and livelihoods are at stake. We want to make sure we can protect people.”
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